Despite Yellen’s Warning, Beijing Reaffirms Its Cooperation With Moscow

Despite Yellen’s Warning, Beijing Reaffirms Its Cooperation With Moscow
Russia's President Vladimir Putin arrives at Beijing Capital International Airport to attend the Third Belt and Road Forum in Beijing on Oct. 17, 2023. (Parker Song/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, at the end of her April 4–8 visit to China, warned Beijing of “significant consequences” if Chinese companies provide assistance to strengthen Russia’s military capabilities.

Shortly after Ms. Yellen’s rare direct warning, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also visited China, indicating that Russia would strengthen its ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

On April 9, CCP leader Xi Jinping met with Mr. Lavrov in Beijing and said that he and Putin agreed to maintain close contact and fully implement several important agreements reached with Moscow.

Russia’s foreign ministry called Mr. Lavrov’s visit “an important stage of comprehensive preparations” for a planned visit to China by Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to a report by Russian news agency Tass. The report said Xi “gave high marks to the state of Sino-Russian ties that continue to dynamically develop in a very complex global situation” and looks toward “the further development of the comprehensive partnership and strategic interaction with Russia.”

In an earlier report in March, Reuters quoted anonymous insiders as saying that Mr. Putin might visit China in May, after his presidential inauguration. Mr. Putin won the Russian presidential election in a landslide last month.

During a February 2022 visit by Mr. Putin to Beijing, Russia and China declared a “no limits” partnership. Within days of his return, Russia launched its military invasion of Ukraine.

In March of last year, Xi announced that he had invited Mr. Putin for a visit, just hours before the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the Russian president charging him with war crimes. The international arrest warrant proved no impediment to Sino-Russian relations. The leaders called each other “dear friends” at their Kremlin meeting, and a few months later, Mr. Putin spoke at the 3rd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing.

CCP Aiding Massive Russian Military Buildup

Over the past year, it has become increasingly evident that the CCP has been secretly helping Russia rebuild its defense industry and forging a closer strategic relationship with Russia.

Chinese customs data showed that the trade volume between China and Russia reached a record high of $240 billion in 2023, up 26.3 percent from the previous year.

The record-breaking trade is believed to be related to military materials. It drew strong words from NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in a press conference early this month: “We see how China is propping up the Russian war economy, delivering dual-capable equipment which is also used in the Russian military industry. In return, Moscow is mortgaging its future to Beijing,” Mr. Stoltenberg said.

Anonymous senior U.S. officials recently told Reuters that the CCP is supporting Russia’s war effort in Ukraine by helping Moscow with its biggest military buildup since the Soviet era, providing drone and missile technology, satellite imagery, and machine tools. In addition, Chinese companies are likely providing Russia with nitrocellulose to make weapon propellants, helping Russia rapidly expand its capacity to produce key munitions such as artillery shells.
In February this year, Taiwan’s Central News Agency reviewed the cross-border investigation report on nitrocellulose trade and found that from March 1, 2022, to Dec. 31, 2023, Russia received a total of $10.6 million in nitrocellulose from China. Before the Russian-Ukrainian war began, there were almost no records of China exporting nitrocellulose to Russia, but now China has become Russia’s largest source of nitrocellulose.

China-Russia Cooperation: ‘Double Counteracting’ the West

While in Beijing, Mr. Lavrov first met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi before meeting with Xi. At the joint press conference after the meeting, Mr. Lavrov suggested that the two countries would join forces to go further.

“We would like to express our highest appreciation and admiration for the successes that you have achieved over the years and, above all, over the last decade under your leadership,” Mr. Lavrov told Xi, Russian media reported.

“We are sincerely pleased with these successes, since these are the successes of friends, although not everyone in the world shares this attitude and are trying in every possible way to restrain the development of China—in fact, just like the development of Russia,” Mr. Lavrov added.

Mr. Lavrov said at the press conference that strengthening security in the Eurasian region is a common goal for China and Russia. The two countries will launch a dialogue on this and welcome “like-minded” countries to join, according to Lianhe Zaobao, the largest Chinese-language newspaper in Singapore.

He added that in response to the “double deterrence” implemented by the West against China and Russia, Mr. Wang had proposed that China and Russia should work at “double counteracting” the West.

Current affairs commentator and Epoch Times contributor Zhang Tianliang discussed the China–Russia axis in a program on his YouTube channel, “Tianliang Times,” on April 9.  Mr. Zhang said that Ms. Yellen, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and President Joe Biden have all issued clear warnings regarding the CCP’s substantial military assistance to Russia, indicating that Washington will very likely take steps to openly sever ties with Beijing.

Mr. Zhang feels there is a definite possibility that the United States will sanction one of China’s banks, to demonstrate to Beijing the consequences of collusion with Russia. That next step would dispel any ambiguity about China–Russia relations versus China–U.S. relations, forcing China to choose a side.

He said he believes that China arranged the proximity of Ms. Yellen and Mr. Lavrov’s visits as a signal that Beijing intends to form an alliance with Russia against the United States and EU countries.

Regarding China–U.S. and China–Russia relations, China affairs commentator Zhuge Yangming told The Epoch Times the current state of geopolitics is polarizing."The current situation is becoming increasingly clear. Western societies that adhere to universal values are becoming more cohesive, while authoritarian regimes such as the CCP, Russia, North Korea, and Iran are uniting to fight the West in various ways,” he said.

Japanese PM: US Does Not Carry ‘Heavy Burden’ Alone

Just days after Mr. Lavrov met with Xi, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida made a state visit to the United States and addressed a joint session of Congress.

In his April 11 speech, Mr. Kishida warned, “China’s current external stance and military actions present an unprecedented and the greatest strategic challenge, not only to the peace and security of Japan but to the peace and stability of the international community at large.”

He stressed that the postwar international order established by the United States is facing new challenges from countries with very different values and principles.

“I want to address those Americans who feel the loneliness and exhaustion of being the country that has upheld the international order almost singlehandedly. I understand it is a heavy burden to carry such hopes on your shoulders. Although the world looks to your leadership, the U.S. should not be expected to do it all, unaided and on your own,” Mr. Kishida said.

The prime minister added, “As the United States’ closest friend, tomodachi, the people of Japan are with you, side by side, to assure the survival of liberty. Not just for our people, but for all people.”